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Professional hiring up 20% despite slowdown in economic growth

This annual increase has been recorded despite reports that UK economic growth slowed to 0.3% in the three months to March 2015. APSCo’s data coincides with the latest ONS figures which show that the number of people in work has increased by 248,000 in the three months to February, driving UK employment to a record-high of 31.05 million.

Engineering steams ahead as sector is hailed as key driver for growth 

The latest data from APSCo reveals that year-on-year growth in the professional staffing market continues to climb across all of the trade association’s core sector groups. Permanent vacancies across finance & accounting, IT, engineering and media & marketing are all up year-on-year (13%, 20%, 20% and 7% respectively).

The rapid growth of the engineering sector, which APSCo has reported in recent months, is in keeping with a recent report from accountancy firm Nixon Williams, which found that the number of engineering jobs available in the UK has increased by almost 18% over the past year with 159,000 employees currently working in the sector. This is perhaps unsurprising when, according to a separate report, the sector delivers &pound280 billion in added value to the UK economy each year.

Average salaries continue to climb 

APSCo’s figures also reveal that median salaries across all professional sectors continue to climb steadily, increasing by 1.9% year-on-year. This figure is characterised by notable fluctuations in terms of sector, with engineering and finance, for example, recording uplifts of 6.3% and 3.1% respectively. This rise in remuneration is mirrored by statistics from the ONS which reported that average earnings grew at an annual rate of 1.7% in the three months to February 2015.

Ann Swain, chief executive of APSCo, commented, “Behind the headline figures that the UK’s growth rate halved to 0.3% in first quarter of 2015, it is worth remembering that, according to official figures, the economy remains 2.4% larger than the same period last year. This healthier economy is reflected in the consistent growth of the professional jobs market, and greater stability post-election should further boost job creation across the professional sectors. With inflation currently at 0%, wages are growing more rapidly in real terms than the raw data suggests. This is a further positive indicator of economic confidence.”

Contract vacancies remain resilient 

Temporary and contract vacancies remain strong across the professional staffing market with opportunities up by 9% across the board year-on-year. Vacancies across finance & accounting and media & marketing are particularly strong (increasing by 10% and 9% respectively). These figures coincide with the launch of the Government’s small business manifesto, which promises a review into the challenges that self-employed professionals face, including accessing maternity pay and building pensions.

Swain added, “Government initiatives to encourage an entrepreneurial approach to employment have had a significant impact on attitudes towards contracting, with many professionals now taking a more flexible outlook to work. This is reflected in the fact that 15% of the workforce is now self-employed. A rise in contract vacancy numbers no longer represents weak permanent employment figures, working on a flexible basis is a lifestyle choice that many professionals choose.”  

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